World War II World War II was one of the deadliest and most destructive wars this world has seen. The origins of the war were in Germany where Adolf Hitler became the leader and started ethnic cleansing, killing any Jewish person, gypsy, homosexual or any other person whom he considered “inferior.” Another cause of the war was the attempted invasion of Ethiopia by Italy, which they eventually occupied in 1936 despite British and French opposition. Germany appeared to be winning the war, taking over the Rhineland, Czechoslovakia, France, Belgium and other pieces of land, up until 1942 when the tides turned in favor of the Allies. The Japanese naval airpower was devastated by the Americans and Hitler had recently been defeated at Moscow. Shortly after Italy was defeated and expelled from the war and Germany’s forces were slowly deteriorated.
The war officially ended when the Japanese surrendered following the detonation of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Hitler began holding meetings with others who thought like him, blaming Jewish people for the problems in Europe. The Communists continually tried to break up the meetings of the group who came to be known as the National Socialist Party in 1923. The National Socialist Party, led by Goering, Hess, Rosenberg, and Roehm, was outraged with France for occupying the Ruhr. In 1924 Hitler was sentenced to a four-year prison term for a demonstration where twenty people were killed.
He only ended up serving thirteen months of the term but it provided sufficient time for him to outline his book Mein Kampf, which means “My Struggle” in German. The President of the German State, Marshal Hindenburg, was eighty-three years old as of 1930 and was persuaded to view Hitler as the next Chancellor of the Reich. Hitler was called to Berlin by the President and on January thirtieth, 1933 he became the Chancellor of Germany. Hitler’s first acquisition was his reoccupation of the Rhineland, a small portion of western Germany in 1936. Just three years later German soldiers had already taken over Czechoslovakia.
In early September of the same year Germany took over Poland, France and Great Britain declare war on Germany, and Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland all declare neutrality. Later in the year Turkey signs a pact with Britain and France giving them mutual assistance and the Soviets attack Finland. In April of 1940 the Danish king announced that Norway was surrendering to Germany and one month later Belgium does the same. France, under constant attack, gave into Germany in mid June. Italy, sided with Germany, decides that it needs control of the Suez Canal so it invades Egypt on September thirteenth. In October after Hitler’s constant nagging, Spain joins the war in exchange for military, agricultural, and territorial demands. On June twenty-second, 1941 Germany begins Operation Barbarossa, the code name for the invasion of the U.S.S.R.
Hitler’s plan was to have his army, 3,200,000 men, split into three groups; one moving north towards Leningrad, one moving towards Moscow, and one moving south towards Kiev. By the time his army had taken Kiev it was already September and as they moved north towards Moscow winter set in early. Hitler’s forces were stuck in the bitter cold of winter. In December a Soviet counter-attack forced the Germans to withdraw from Moscow. This was the first sign that Hitler’s powerful army could in fact be stopped and that he was bound to make a mistake at some time. Another Allied force, the British, were also having good luck.
In Libya the British were able to split the army under Rommel, forcing him to retreat. Early in the morning of December seventh, 1941 a fleet of 189 Japanese aircraft began attacking Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The first wave of planes destroyed anything it could find, including American aircraft, battleships, destroyers, cruisers, and submarines. The second wave followed shortly and attacked everything the first wave had missed. Anti-aircraft fire was able to deter a third wave, but an incredible amount of damage had already happened. In only one hour, forty five minutes the Japanese air forces wrecked and capsized two battleships and three were resting on the bottom. Nineteen war ships had been hit and 150 aircraft had been disabled.
In all over 2,400 American lives were lost, 2,086 from the Navy and 237 from the Army. As a result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor the United States, with many of the Latin American countries, declared war on Germany, Japan and Italy. Although many countries declared war against the Axis nations, only the United States, Brazil, and Mexico actually sent troops to fight. At this point the war started to turn in favor of the Allies. The first major win for the American forces was at the Battle of the Coral Sea. After the dust settled at Coral Sea the Japanese lost three heavy cruisers, two destroyers, and more than twenty other ships.
Just a month later the Americans won another decisive battle at Midway. American forces spotted the Japanese fleet before it was able to do any extensive damage to the island. By the end of the battle the Japanese were in full retreat after the loss of four carriers, two large cruisers, three destroyers, and various other auxiliary craft. In the U.S.S.R. the Germans had resumed their offensive, now with their primary target as Caucasus, for the oil, and their secondary target as Stalingrad. The Germans had a chance to attack Stalingrad while it was nearly defenseless, however they waited and attacked after Soviet reinforcements arrived.
It appeared as though they would capture Caucasus but a fuel shortage plagued them. In October 1942 the German army had lost twenty-two divisions and the rest were ordered by Hitler to fight to the last man against the reinforced Soviets. 22,500 German soldiers under Paulus surrendered inside Caucasus after losing nearly 200,000, 100,000 dead and 91,000 captured. The only logical place the Allies could find to attack was Italy, but they first had to go through Sicily which was guarded by two islands, Pantelleria and Lampedusa. Even though the attack on Pantelleria destroyed only two of the fifty-four shore batteries, the Italians flew a white flag when a ship neared the island.
The attack on Sicily by the Allies didn’t start well, but they soon got things straightened out and the Seventh army had gained an important position on the island. On July twenty-fifth Mussolini, the leader of the Italians, resigned and was immediately imprisoned, only to be freed by Nazis several weeks later. The Italians surrendered Sicily unconditionally on September second and their fleet sailed towards Malta. The Eighth army landed on the southern tip of Italy and moved north, while the Fifth army landed further up the west coast at Salerno. The Fifth army nearly faced defeat but gained the advantage once heavy armor arrived.
The Fifth and Eighth armies joined forces 45 miles southeast of Salerno and moved there way to Foggia, then Naples. Shortly after the Italians abandoned Sardinia and Corsica. Operations in the Soviet Union continued throughout 1943, with Germany launching their final offensive in July. The Battle of Kursk followed shortly, proving to be the greatest tank battle ever. At first the Soviets forced the Germans behind the Dnieper river, followed by ten German divisions retreating from the Taman Peninsula to Crimea. Kharkov, Donets, Taganrog, Poltava, and Smolensk were all liberated by the Soviets by mid September.
The Soviets took a short break and resumed their offensive on October seventh. In order to prepare for a winter offensive the Soviets rested and stockpiled after nearly defeating Manstein and Kleist. 1944 began well for the Allies, as they invaded and conquered the Marshall Islands in late January. The attack was split into three groups. The first was a task force who annihilated the defenses of seven different islands. The second was a group of reinforced marines who took down the islands of Roi and Namur in only four days of close combat.
The final group landed at Majuro, an island wanted for its deep harbors. However, the island had already been evacuated by the Japanese and it was taken over without any fighting. The Japanese air base at Engebi was captured after the loss of 500 Americans’ lives. On February sixteenth the naval base of Truk was raided and 201 enemy planes and twenty-three ships were destroyed at the cost of seventeen American planes. Less than a week later 135 planes and eleven surface ships were destroyed at the island of Saipan.
Just a month later American forces captured New Guinea which brought them within 300 miles of the Philippines. By the spring of 1944 the Soviets reclaimed nearly all of their own country and began pushing into the Balkans and Poland. The siege at Leningrad was won after two and a half years. A very important target for the Soviets was the Odessa-Lvov railway. In just two days they had reached the rai …